VATICAN CITY - A US Catholic priest who supports ordination for women was detained briefly by police yesterday after marching to the Vatican to press the Holy See to lift its ban on female priests.
The Rev. Roy Bourgeois and about a dozen supporters had marched down the main boulevard leading to the Vatican holding a banner “Ordain Catholic Women’’ and chanting outside St. Peter’s Square “What do we want? Women priests! When do we want them? Now!’’
Police prevented the group from entering the piazza and told them to take down their banners since they didn’t have a protest permit. When police tried to confiscate the banners, members of the group resisted, resulting in Bourgeois and two supporters being taken away in police cars, witnesses said.
The three were detained for about two hours at a Rome police station and released without being arrested or charged, though prosecutors were still investigating, said Bourgeois’s attorney, Bill Quigley.
Bourgeois and members of the Women’s Ordination Conference and other groups that support female priests had come to Rome to deliver a petition signed by some 15,000 people backing the priest. Bourgeois, who is based in Georgia, is facing dismissal from his Maryknoll order for his support of women’s ordination.
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2008 ordered Bourgeois to recant his support for female priests or risk excommunication after he delivered the homily at the ordination of Janice Sevre-Duszynska. Church teaching holds that the priesthood is reserved for men.